The criminal law assumes concrete meaning when it is administered through the criminal justice system or the criminal process. The process starts with a decision of a legislature to make certain conduct illegal. The criminal law is then enforced by the police who respond to the decisions of crime victims to report crime and sometimes, especially in drug and prostitution cases, proactively investigate the crime themselves. As examined in chapter 2, the investigative activities of the police are restricted by various rights under the Charter, such as the right to counsel and the right against unreasonable search and seizure.
If the accused is charged, then the trial process begins. A prosecutor (sometimes called the Crown) will decide what of any charges are warranted and can make a decision to divert the charges out of court to alternative-measure programs. If charges proceed, the accused will have to make a decision whether to hire a lawyer or, if a lawyer cannot be afforded, to apply for legal aid to have a lawyer paid by the state. The trial process may include pre-trial detention by the denial of bail and in the most serious cases may include the holding of a preliminary inquiry and trial by jury. The vast majority of cases in Canada are decided by a judge without a jury. As noted above, most cases do not result in full
trials, and the judge only has to engage in sentencing after the accused has...